2023 journal article
Acaricidal Biominerals and Mode-of-Action Studies against Adult Blacklegged Ticks, Ixodes scapularis
Ticks in the USA are the most important arthropod vector of microbes that cause human and animal disease. The blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, the focus of this study, is able to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in humans in the USA. The main approach to tick control is the use of chemical acaricides and repellents, but known and potential tick resistance to these chemicals requires the discovery of new methods of control. Volcanic glass, Imergard, was recently developed to mimic the insecticide mode of action of the minerals from diatoms (diatomaceous earth, DE) for the control of malaria mosquitoes in Africa. However, studies on the use of these minerals for tick control are minimal. In a dipping assay, which was put into DE (Celite), the times of 50 and 90% death of adult female I. scapularis were 7.3 and 10.5 h, respectively. Our mimic of DE, Imergard, killed ticks in 6.7 and 11.2 h, respectively. In a choice-mortality assay, ticks moved onto a treated surface of Imergard and died at 11.2 and 15.8 h, respectively. Ticks had greater locomotor activity before death when treated by dipping for both Imergard and Celite versus the no-mineral control. The ticks after making contact with Imergard had the mineral covering most of their body surface shown by scanning electron microscopy with evidence of Imergard inside their respiratory system. Although the assumed mode of action of Imergard and Celite is dehydration, the minerals are not hygroscopic, there was no evidence of cuticle damage, and death occurred in as little as 2 h, suggesting minimal abrasive action of the cuticle. Semi-field and field studies are needed in the future to examine the practical use of Imergard and Celite for tick control, and studies need to examine their effect on tick breathing and respiratory retention of water.